Friday, April 08, 2011

Review: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

First line: You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, but that ain't no matter.

From the back cover: You don't know about me, without you have read a book by the name of 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,' but that ain't no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth. That is nothing. I never seen anybody but lied, one time or another...:

So Huckleberry Finn starts his story. Picking up from roughly the end of Tom Sawyer, with the Widow Douglas not having much luck trying to "sivilize" Huck, the novel moves away from the trials of boyhood - and leaves Tom behind, mainly - to a journey down the Mississippi, where Huck and Jim, a runaway slave, search for a little peace in a world of darkness and violence.

Twain filled the book with a rogue's gallery of unforgettable characters: the scurrilous Duke and Dauphin; Huck's drunken father; the feuding Grangerfords and Shepherdson's; but the story belongs to Jim and Huck,"drifting down the big still river, laying on [their] backs looking up at the stars."

My thoughts: My book club decided that we would read a classic last month and we choose Huck Finn. I was glad to have been given a purpose for rereading this book again - I had read it in high school and vaguely remembered it. I found it interesting that all five members of my book club unanimously agreed that the book was great until the last part - the part when Tom Sawyer appears. From there, the whole tone of the book changed, it seemed more juvenile. The grand plans that Tom was coming up with to free Jim were so convoluted and frustrating that I almost didn't want to continue reading. And then, to find out after all that, that Tom knew Jim was a free man was doubly frustrating. For the rest of the book, I think it not only is a great adventure story for both children and adults, but also a story about social injustice. It really hits home the point that we should all be tolerant of one another. There are many themes throughout the book, but the one that seems to appear repeatedly is that of one's conscience verses society. Huck struggles with this throughout, sometimes winning against society and sometimes society winning out against Huck. Are we ever truly free of society's influence? I enjoyed rereading this book and hope to have the chance to pick up some other classics sometime soon.

(I purchased this book.)
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3 comments

  1. Kristin, I am due to reread this classic soon myself. What a great choice for a book club! I hope you had some excellent discussions about social injustice.

    Enjoy your weekend! :)

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  2. Excellent review.
    Did you read the sanitized version?

    If not, what did you think, would "slave" have the same impact?

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  3. @ Suko - We did have some good discussions. It's amazing, though, that we all found Tom Sawyer's appearance to take away from the book. I think I am going to make a point to read a classic every few months!

    @ Man of la Book - We did not read the sanitized version and I don't think using the word "slave" would have had the same impact. I really think you need to use the word Mark Twain used because at that time, that's what they were referred to as...using the word slave takes away from that.

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